Filled with catchy hooks and relentless riffs, anthems that worm their way deep into your head, the members of Minneapolis-based rock band Scrunchies discuss the challenges of being musicians during a pandemic and perform their new single “Feral Coast” in their back yard.
How do you describe your music?
Laura: We are a rock ‘n roll band! Some punk influences, some grunge influences, but we mostly play rock music.
Danielle: Yeah, we’re not a punk band, we’re a rock band. Our songs are very rock ‘n roll.
Laura: I think we’ve had a hard time trying to define what exactly our band sounds like, which every band has a hard time with, right? It’s like I just don’t know how to categorize myself. We all grew up listening to punk music and grunge and stuff, but we’re not just a black-and-white punk band. I think we have a lot of things that pour into it, but [the music] mostly comes from a pretty rock ‘n roll direction.
Danielle: Yeah, three punk musicians in a rock band.
What’s behind the name Scrunchies?
Laura: Oh no, I’ve been dreading this moment! I think we wanted something memorable and something kind of cute. I’ve got to be honest: It was just on a list, and it was just like, “Hey, that works,” and we all agreed on that.
Danielle: We couldn’t agree on a name for months, so that was pretty much it.
Laura: And it makes silly merch a lot easier, too. We’ve got some scrunchies to sell for merch.
How do you like performing a toned-down version of your music?
Laura: It’s a little different for us. We are really used to being a bombastic, very loud and energetic live band, so bringing everything outside and bringing it down a notch while trying to keep the same intensity is a little challenging for us. But it’s a good way to reassess how is our songwriting and how are we playing together when we’re not covering ourselves in shrouds of feedback, which I think can be a little bit of a crutch for a lot of bands – and so it’s cool to take this experience and be able to hear how our songs sound without having three peddles that my guitar is going through and a bunch of echo on the vocals and that stuff. It’s different, but it’s good. It’s fun.
What challenges have you faced as musicians during a pandemic?
Laura: I feel like I’m almost bursting at the seams with creativity because I feel like I need to be doing something. What I’ve really realized during this time is that I can take those feelings and, instead of turning them into something that is a creative project but might be inherently self-serving, [instead I] sort of look at my community and say we’re also not only in a pandemic, but we’re in the midst of a huge social uprising and reckoning with racial politics in America and how we all choose to show up as individuals. And so I think being a creative person, I have this strength as myself and as my band to choose how we can use that to give back to progressive causes and support mutual aid in our communities. We can’t look at things the way we did before because things aren’t going to be normal; they shouldn’t be going back to the way things were. We should be looking at how can we use our strengths, our creativity, to better the world that we live in because that’s our responsibility to do that.
Musically, has anything good come from the pandemic?
Laura: Right at the beginning of quarantine, I wrote an eight-song electropunk album that Danielle did the artwork for and Matt mastered, so we put it under the “Scrunchies Presents” umbrella – that was fun. We’ve also written some new songs and finished recording our new album. I’m not necessarily inspired by quarantine; there’s nothing about it that makes me want to channel my experience into a song that everyone can get on board with or something, but I do feel like it’s opened up a lot of space for having a more thoughtful songwriting process.
Danielle: We took one of the songs from Laura’s electropunk album and made it a band song, and that’s going to be on Feral Coast.
Laura: I don’t want to be that band that’s like, “We’re pushing the boundaries.” We’re doing some things we didn’t do on our old albums or our other bands that we’ve been in, so I think it’s a cool experience to be able to write a part that I normally wouldn’t have or sing this part differently than I normally would have before.
Tell us about the new album Feral Coast.
Laura: We’re really excited about putting this new album out [Feral Coast] and we are doing it with the focus that it’s not just about putting the album out, go play shows, sell a bunch of records, and tour, tour, tour. I want to do all those things, but I understand there’s a bigger picture thing going on right now.
Danielle: Our last album Stunner was made so quickly and recorded so quickly; it took less than a year, which felt like it was such a rush – which is a good thing to experience, but now, with this album, it’s been two years in the making.
Laura: We’ve been working on this album for a really long time, and it felt like we were right on the precipice of being done with it, and then everything happened and [we] went into quarantine and we couldn’t practice for a few months, and then it felt like we can kind of start practicing again, but like what comes next, how do we do this? So we’re still trying to navigate what that looks like. It’s forced us to slow down a lot.
Do you have any pandemic related advice?
Laura: Matt, do you have any advice?
Matt: Go on a lot of walks.
Danielle: I think this has been a great time to examine yourself and the world and think about if you’re happy with what you’ve been doing and, if not, you have the time to confront it or start something new or really get to know yourself. I think that’s the great thing about this. Before this, I was working two jobs every day, and where there was an issue that arose, I was too busy to think about it. Now I’ve had that time to be like, this is an issue and what do I want to do about it or should I try this idea. I made a really bad self-made recording, but I learned how to record myself, so that was exciting. And I think learn how to value your friendships and relationships in your life because I feel like we take those for granted a lot. Learn to love yourself and others… I sound like a hippie.
Laura: Don’t be afraid to take a lot of naps. I take a lot of naps.
Bonus Performance: Scrunchies perform “Wichita”
Production Team: Ryan Klabunde, Eric Pagel, Mike Phillips
How have other Minnesota musicians fared during the pandemic? Check out the rest of our Pandemic Performances.
For three seasons, we’ve partnered with seasoned local artists who each assemble a cohort of emerging artists to share their stories and perform together. Since creative venues all about town are closed in the wake of the pandemic, bring a dash of artistry into your home by learning more about the artists of our ongoing series Art Is…
The Minnesota hardcore scene was a close-knit community of artists and fans that encouraged culture and spawned huge talents like Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, Soul Asylum, Rifle Sport and more. Check out Minnesota Hardcore, a fast-paced, musical docu-series that examines the punk scene in the Twin Cities from 1980 to 1985.